Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design completes Orinda CC project


Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design completes Orinda CC project
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

Todd Eckenrode – Origins Golf Design has completed a restoration and renovation project at the Orinda Country Club course near Oakland, California.

Designed by William Watson and opened in 1924, the course lies on a hilly site that features two creeks – Lauterwasser and San Pablo – which come into play on 11 of the course’s 18 holes.

Eckenrode and his team used images and data from the Orinda Country Club’s archives – specifically from the period during the course’s construction and opening. This included a number of useful aerial photographs of the site.

The project included the creation of six completely new greens, ten green enlargements or restorations, and a complete bunker renovation. Tees were also renovated, green surrounds and approaches were reconstructed, and vast areas of fairway and short-cut surrounds were added.

“Watson utilised the hills in a multitude of ways, as turtlebacks, banking side slopes, reversing slopes, and in a fine mix of both uphill and downhill play,” said Eckenrode. “The aesthetics and strategy of play in this regard is ever-changing and offers wonderful variety. The canvas that we had to work with was inspiring with plenty of memorable holes from the wild reverse-boomerang green of the fifth to the drop-shot eighth, the drivable and funneling effect of hole No.10, the creekside fifteenth hole and the wild roller-coaster uphill No.18 set beneath the grand clubhouse above, these are holes unlike any I have ever come across prior.”

California-based shapers Brett Hochstein and George Waters helped carry out work on the course’s bunkering, green surrounds and approaches, as well as restoring and creating a number of new greens.

Hochstein and Waters also worked to restore holes eight, eleven and fifteen to bring them in line with the original historical images of the course.

“With Todd leading the way, our project stayed focused on all the right things, more shortgrass, more water savings with natives, impactful and thoughtful bunkers, fun recaptured hole locations, and quiet moments throughout the course,” said Josh Smith, golf course superintendent at Orinda CC. “He continued to show just the right amount of restraint that a golden age-design like Orinda deserved. We went from a cluttered, tired and forced looking design, to a much more natural and visually pleasing golfing experience. We look forward to future improvements under his guidance.”

Orinda CC is the latest addition to a long list of Californian courses Eckenrode and his team have worked on, which includes Brentwood CC in Los Angeles, Virginia CC in Long Beach and Quail Lodge GC in Carmel.

“Whether it meant restoration, renovation or a combination of both, our design team was committed to improving each hole to its best possible measure,” said Eckenrode. “The membership is delighted with the result and from our standpoint, we feel we were able to turn the clock back a bit, and allow all who play to experience the glories of a classic, 1920s designed gem.”